Near to Blackgang on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight is a farming community that has what has been described as a 'magnificent pub'! This is the village of Chale which lies just off of the Military Road which runs along this part of the to Freshwater Bay. The village is listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as Cela, and comprises of Chale Green and Blackgang and has th 780 ft St Catherines Down as a back drop and some of the best coastline in the South of England. Three miles away is Atherfield point with its treacherous ledge to St Catherine's Point with its famed lighthouse.

Here in Chale can be found an old manor house with a long 15th century barn a lovely church, the chine and the old beacon.

Here again is another village that had a bad reputation concerning shipwrecks, for example the Clarendon was smashed to pieces in a violent storm in 1836 and the loss of all lives except three crew members. The local pub was made bigger using some timbers that were saved from the wreck and it was renamed The Clarendon but it has now reverted back to The Wight Mouse.

The Isle of Wight Rifles, Chale 1914
Photo courtesy of David & Suzanne Maitland-Wood

Blackgang Chine can be found at the start of the Undercliff, which is a huge chasm that has been cut into the clifs by a stream that flows into the sea, it is a huge tourist attraction with its replica dinosaurs and theme park. In the entrance there used to be a working model of the Islands only Funfair , Walls, which was made by an uncle of mine who lived in Ryde. The model was all to scale and the carousels and other rides all worked and were powered by model steam engines which generated an electric motor. When he died the model was put on display at Blackgang Chine and if you put 1d in the slot it would all move though not powered by steam then. Sadly this was allowed to go into disrepair and I believe it was thrown out. The ironic thing was my father offered to buy it for my 10th birthday but the price of 35 was too much in those mid 50s days.

There are steep ragged cliffs just past here and a tiny temple stands in honour of William Shakespeare, it ws built in 1864 and the stream below is also dedicated to the bard.

The medieval lighthouse   St Catherine's Lighthouse

Photos above courtesy of IOWCAM

On the top of St Catherine's Hill can be found a 36ft high tower that has a pointed cap and has openings all around it, this has been here for 600 years and above the doorway is another doorway and on top of that there are marks where an old gable roof used to be. This is in fact a mediaeval lighthouse which was actually mentioned in the Winchester registers of 1328 as being endowed by Walter de Godston. Originally there was an oratory to it but this has long gone. It was kept maintained by a priest who lived in the lower storey of the oratory and it was his job to see that a light burned through that night and to offer mass to those poor souls lost at sea. The tower itself had four storeys and a ladder was used to reach the upper two.